Sunday 11th August and the third day of the ashes test is well underway at the Riverside ground in Chester-Le-Street.  Australia’s first innings is close to the end.  Anderson takes a run up and bowls.  The ball bounces and strikes Lyon on the pad.  The England team turn to the umpire, raise their hands in the air and shout out their appeals but he shakes his head and says not out.

But wait, this is Australia’s last wicket and getting Lyon out would put England back into bat.  It is a crucial moment in the game and so the home team take up their right to appeal.  The technology is available to run through every ball, every stroke and every decision to see if it should stand.  It can tell if the ball was heading for the stumps or if the batsman nicked it as it flew past or if there was any other infringement of the longstanding rules of cricket.

The crowd holds its breath to see the outcome.  The ball is replayed on the massive screen and as Lyon sees the ball hit his pad he walks.  He knew the result even before the umpire overturns his original decision.  It is a fine testimony to the spirit in which the game is still played and a good example of how Hawkeye, the name of the technology used can improve the decision making process and add another dimension to the game.

Hawkeye has been in use in test cricket for some time.  It is also in use in grass and hard court tennis.  In both sports each team or player is given a limited number of appeals or chances to review a decision.  This lends a further level of complexity to the game, which leads to increased excitement for the spectator but also stops appeals at every decision.  Similar technology will also be available for football from this season to see if the ball crossed the goal line.

The ability of the aggrieved team to challenge an umpire’s decision has led to improved enjoyment of the game, better decision making and a great sense of fair play.

So why can’t we introduce a similar approach at work.  We won’t be able to introduce replay technology but we could allow a number of management decisions to be appealed during a specific period, say two per calendar month.  If the team feel that a poor or wrong decision has been made they can ask for a review including the information upon which a decision was made, a discussion about the thinking that went behind it, the other possible solutions that were considered and so on.  An appeal panel would be set up and if they concluded that the decision was wrong or inappropriate it could be overturned.

The appeal would have to be used wisely.  Use it too often and you may have wasted it on unimportant decisions and have no right of appeal when something more serious comes along.  Having no appeals left may encourage management to force through difficult decisions later on in the period and throw out teasers earlier in the month to draw appeals.  Keeping an appeal up your sleeve may lead to more thought and understanding being put into the decision making process which could ultimately lead to better management.

If Hawkeye is good for sport then could something similar at work improve decision making, the sense of fair play and in the end make work a more enjoyable thing to do?

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